That's right. Hope Lives will turn 13 on August 12, 2015.
The truth is that I didn't write down the actual date Hope was launched because in the early days I was too busy learning to script. So at some point I decided on August 12th, 2002. The year is definitely a guess. I am reasonably sure that we started testing emulators that year but it was a couple months before I had a shard ready for players.
In the beginning...
Originally the person who had set-up the basic POL server and Distro scripts, my son Matt, had volunteered to do most, if not all, of the scripting for me but circumstances changed and he wasn't able to help with the scripting. So I had to learn the language of eScript. We had looked at the three or four Ultima Online emulators that were around at the time. They were Sphere, Wolfpack, UO/X (I think that was the name), and POL. I was leaning toward Wolfpack initially but it had a quirk that bothered me. When a player logged out it left a grey shape of the character in the game window. This was only seen by GMs but it bothered me. Especially since the server we downloaded wasn't a "clean" server and it apparently had a large player base because there were a lot of grey ghostly character shapes in Britain. I don't think we ever ran Sphere to test it. I seem to remember we had some issue that we couldn't get resolved. I don't remember if we ever tested UO/X either. To be honest, I am not sure if I would have ever gotten a shard up and running if it weren't for Matt's help researching things and setting-up POL for me. It certainly would have taken me a lot longer for sure. So thanks Matt.
Then there was POL.
We chose POL because of one major factor. My son said when he posted a question on the forums he got a quick response. At the time we were getting set-up there were two active sources of scripts and help that we went to. There was the official POL site and there was the World of Dreams (WoD) site. Matt was using both places for help and both were very active at the time. Both had their own set of "Distro", or distribution, scripts. In this context the word "Distro" refers to a set of scripts that provide a basic fully functional UO world. I use the unquoted Distro to refer to the set that used to be available from the POL website. The official POL Distro had been written by the developers of the POL server and by contributors. It was supposed to be a bare bones set of scripts that worked but had no "bells and whistles". The WoD version was written by the developers of World of Dreams shard and had some added features that weren't in the POL Distro. There are significant differences between the two sets of scripts in the way they were written. If you liked something from the WoD scripts it wasn't a simple matter to just drag that code over to a server running the POL Distro. So you had to decide in the beginning which set you were going to use.
We played around with the WoD version initially. I probably would have gone with it because it wasn't just a bare bones set of scripts but it had one thing I didn't want on Hope, a class system. Granted it was a very simple one compared to some but it was still a class system. So we chose the official Distro.
What's in a name?
I don't think I've ever mentioned how Hope Lives got its name. Before starting Hope I had played on the Journey's End shard. There was a player there with a character named "Derek Nightshade". He had a "brother" (his alt) "Eric Nightshade". I knew the player in real life and he was over at our house one night and I mentioned that I was thinking of starting a shard and I asked him to suggest a name. He told me he liked the idea of something with "hope" in it. I think he might have suggested "Hope is Alive" or something. I can't remember for certain. I liked the idea of having a shard with the word "hope" in the name too since my primary character on Journey's End worshipped the god of hope. Her catch phrase whenever things were looking bad was "There is always hope." So that's how Hope got her name.